If Herschel Walker follows through with his intention of stepping up in competition in the Strikeforce heavyweight division, he will need to consider two things: who and how he fights.
Still young in the sport, the 48-year-old easily defeated his overmatched opponent, Scott Carson, in the first round of their match Saturday night. It was featured on the main card of Strikeforce: Cyborg vs. Diaz.
There has been a lot of griping about him fighting opponents where the victory is guaranteed, but for Walker, improvement is the most important thing.
"The Herschel of today would have beaten up the Herschel of a year ago," Walker said at the pre-fight press conference. "I was dumb and naïve when I first started. But I have learned a lot."
For fans, it's hard to see the improvement he has made because he only has two professional fights. We don't see him in the gym every day or what he is doing when he is not fighting. Rumors of him returning to football were false. He is solely focused on being the best he can be in mixed martial arts.
The main question is, where does he go from here?
There are a host of Heavyweight Grand Prix reserve bouts coming up in February. There is a possibility he could take on one of the winners or losers of those fights. Fans will find out really quickly if he has what it takes to be a quality opponent amongst the very best in the division if he does so.
What type of opponent should Walker fight next?
If he doesn't take on a credible opponent, we will be seeing a lot more repeats of Saturday night. Walker knows improvement is not found only in the gym, so facing the best should be on his list of things to do before he retires.
"If I come back, I'm definitely going to fight somebody tougher," Walker said after the fight.
If he really does want to fight someone tougher, there is no shortage of opponents for him to face. If he decides to take on Done Frye or Dan Severn, which may be the case, they would both be good opponents at this stage in his MMA career.
Anyone he faces that is well-known will gain him respect from MMA fans who don't know the significance of his achievements in football, which include being a Heisman Trophy winner.
Win or lose, the heart and drive fighters show in choosing to fight the best are what they most appreciate. Walker has the perfect chance to be a part of the most visceral part of the sport.